Daydreaming a Laputa: My experiment with electromagnet levitation

It was during the time when the star wars in 2016 was released, I got an idea, it was something cool and something I have never seen before. Yes a levitating and navigating vehicle.  Wow the moment I started visualizing something floating on a surface and moving smoothly was so fascinating. I quickly got in to the plan of checking how to make it work.  Now before going in to detail of what I did let me now explain the concept of how I visualized it. It was a vehicle with about 4 to 6 electromagnets with front and back magnets that are moving parts. The second part is just a magnetic sheet.


The magnetic sheet will be laid like a road on the ground. It can be like a maze or round or the way you want. The electromagnetic vehicle will be kept on top of the magnetic sheet surface. It can be controlled by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Once you switch on the toy, the electromagnet gets activated and magnetizes itself. And just like a quadcopter all the four or six magnets slowly lift the vehicle to the air. Now based on the intensity and the direction of the magnetic field the vehicle can be controlled. In order to know the magnetic region hall sensor could be used to sense before making the move.

For all the above to happen most importantly the electromagnet and the magnetic sheet should be configured in such a way that on magnetization they repel. So in order to get these things right before thinking about prototype, I wanted to do a simple test. That is to see if a electromagnet and magnetic sheet repel.


The Test:

For the test I choose to buy a Grove electromagnet from seeedstudios because it is small, Arduino compatible and easy to use.

















Magnetic Sheet:

For magnet I choose the one mentioned below. It is a anisotropic magnetic sheet with 9mm thickness. From the research I made, I found that the anisotropic magnets retain the polarity. For a magnetic repulsion polarity is important.



I connected the Grove electro magnet with the Arduino with digital pin on HIGH. . I tested with with some bunch of metal clips that the electromagnet was working well. Now came the time to test the Magnetic sheet. I took the magnetic sheet from the box and placed it on the table and pulled the electromagnet towards it. Pause!

If it works it would open a new type of toy that I would make, from commercial perspective I can see Japanese sushi bar running floating plates instead of the conveyer belt. With all these new ideas emerging in my mind I finally tested.

They attracted each other. After that I googled many more times to convince myself that with 9mm thickness it is not possible retain enough polarity to repel object.The search continues ….

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